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California Pushes To Recover Cost Of Wildfires

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An aerial view of flames from one of two wildfires in Lake County, August 13, 2012. (CBS)

An aerial view of flames from one of two wildfires in Lake County, August 13, 2012. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — California officials are pushing hard — some say too hard — for money to recover the costs of fighting wildfires.

The Sacramento Bee reports that for the last eight years, the state has more aggressively gone after businesses and individuals it blames for starting wildfires.

The newspaper says the state’s Civil Cost Recovery Program is considered such a financial success that Gov. Jerry Brown is asking lawmakers to expand the unit’s staff of lawyers, fire accountants and investigators from 14 to 24.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials say the unit goes after people who spark wildfires, costing millions of dollars to put out.

But state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber — who represents a vast rural area in far Northern California — says the state should put limits on its attempts to recover money.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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